April is upon us, and Earth Day is coming up. This annual event is a reminder that we need to take care of our planet so it continues to take care of us. The data is in, and we need to make changes to our habits permanently, not just during Earth Day. It really isn’t as hard as you think it is. I run an environmentally friendly cleaning business in the busiest and most populous city in the United States. How can you contribute to saving our planet on Earth Day and every other day of the year? Keep reading to find out.
Let’s begin with some simple things that make a huge difference but won’t cause you distress or damage your pocketbook. In fact, these suggestions will save you money. If you aren’t doing so already, save our planet by:
- Minding Your Water Usage: You learned when you were a kid to turn off your water when you’re brushing your teeth, but are you really doing so? Did you know that if you aren’t, you’re wasting five gallons of water per day, and if your toilet is leaking, you’re wasting 20 gallons of water per day? Turn off the faucet when you brush, and fix your leaky toilets. Buying the toilet innards at your local hardware store costs much less than hiring a plumber.
- Avoiding Plastic: The bottled water you consume every day is an environmental nightmare. Not only does manufacturing the water bottles take 1.5 billion barrels of oil annually, but it also unleashes greenhouse gasses, as do the empty bottles as they pile up in landfills. Guess what? Your bottled water is treated tap water, so why not filter your taps instead? The filters aren’t expensive. In fact, do the math: Calculate your monthly bottled water expense. Filtering is cheaper!
- Recycling: Did you know that recycling one soda can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours? Using recycled paper cuts air pollution by 74 percent and saves water by 35 percent. Recycling your used products and using recycled products make a tremendous difference in saving our environment, so much so that there’s just no excuse not to do it, especially if you go to a center that will give you cash for the recycled goods.
- Changing Your Bathing Habits: Aside from turning off the water when you brush your teeth, you should also turn it off when you wash your hands. Turn it off between soaping up and rinsing in the shower as well. Ladies, did you know that those plastic beads in your exfoliating face wash actually harm fish and wildlife once they go down the drain? And washing your hair introduces chemicals into the water supply unless you use an all-natural, biodegradable shampoo.
- Going Vegetarian: When you buy that pound of hamburger for tonight’s dinner, you’ve just wasted 2,500 gallons of water. I am not kidding. It can take that much water to produce one pound of beef. It’s not that hard to go vegetarian these days; in fact, going vegan is even better, as dairy production is also extremely detrimental to the environment. If you don’t want to make the life choice permanent, have a veggie night weekly, or go vegetarian for one week a month or year. Guess what? Eating healthy beans for protein instead of meat is much cheaper anyway.
- Leaving Your Car in the Garage: Whether you live in a big city with public transit or a small town, you can leave your car at home. I know it’s convenient, but it’s also killing our environment. Here is a fact to chew on: If you leave your car in the garage two days each week, you’ll save 1,590 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a lot. Why not carpool two days a week, take public transit, or take better care of yourself by biking or walking to work?
Some Big Things
Let’s talk about some major changes that will be, admittedly, expensive at first but will pay off in the long run. You can also save our planet by:
- Replacing Your Appliances with Energy-Efficient Ones: You’ve been wanting to remodel your kitchen and laundry room anyway, so why not recycle those old appliances and replace them with Energy Star appliances? Include replacing your water heater and HVAC units if these are old. All of these appliances cost you thousands of dollars to run each year. Purchasing an energy-efficient dishwasher alone will save you (and the planet) hundreds of gallons of water monthly.
- Performing Much-Needed Remodeling: If your windows and sills don’t seal anymore, if your weatherstripping is worn, if your insulation is degraded, if your plumbing is old… I could go on. These things are costing you a tremendous amount of money and placing an unnecessary burden on the environment. Replace your windows and sills, and tint them if you live in a hot climate. Replace all weatherstripping and insulation, and install low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads.
- Composting Your Garbage: This really isn’t a big thing, but many people view it as such. I know it seems daunting to begin composting your garbage, but it’s an easy thing to do once you get the hang of it. It also saves you money on that dangerous and chemically laden fertilizer you’re buying at the nursery; compost is a natural fertilizer. Start the compost pile and clean up our landfills. Why? Because your tax dollars are going toward running those environmentally hazardous sites.
- Buying a Hybrid: I mentioned above keeping your car off the road, and that really is the best solution. If you’re shaking your head and saying “No way,” then at least invest in a hybrid. These cars save you gas money annually and save the environment greenhouse gas emissions. While you’re out cruising in your new hybrid, slow down. Did you know that driving 10 miles per hour slower saves four miles per gallon of gas? And if you ensure that your tires remain properly inflated, you’re saving even more fuel.
These are just a few ways you can save the planet not only this Earth Day but every day. There’s so much more, such as switching to incandescent bulbs and turning off the lights the minute you leave a room. Unplugging appliances when you’re not using them also saves energy. The list goes on and on, but here’s the kicker: All of us can save this planet. We really can, and as you can see now, it only takes minor adjustments to your lifestyle to do so. So let’s all contribute to saving our planet every day of our lives.